(Photo credit: Becky McCray)
Using technology and the voice of “Kate” to give several presentations in recent months, I have become acutely aware of the differences between verbal and written forms of communication.
Verbal communication is not simply text converted to speech. Verbal communication, for the most part, is less structured and more fluid. It is not always complete sentences; it is definitely not paragraphs.
Verbal communication requires thinking, rationalizing and forming an opinion in the moment. Unless it is a prepared speech, there is no luxury of a draft and revision after further thought, as is the case with writing. Verbal communication is synchronous, without a delay between the time when the message is sent and the time when it is received.
Verbal communication takes self-confidence. Do these words I am about to utter fit with what the others are talking about? Is my point valid within the context of this conversation? Self-confidence varies across situations. A confident writer may not be a confident speaker. That confidence is built up over time with an accumulation of successes and failures. And, with that self-confidence comes verbal communication skills, learned over time and built upon previous lessons learned.
Adding a communication device to the mix may make verbal communication possible in that the message is spoken aloud. But, from what I have experienced so far on this journey, using such a device (in whatever form) is not quite the same as verbal communication. In my case, using the technology that I do, it is closer to written communication converted to text with some tweaks.
Learning how to use this technology within the verbal realm has required being a quick study to appear on par with my peers. Behind the scenes, it has been difficult to know how to fit one form of communication into another.
I wonder, when young people with speech disabilities are given communication devices and taught how to use the device, are they also taught how to communicate with the device? The way I see it, there are two sets of skills here: the technical and the social. Both are required, but might be acquired at different speeds.
It has definitely been an interesting journey; one that I am still navigating.
I’d love to hear your thoughts, tips or insights.If you enjoyed this post, consider buying me a cafe mocha. Thanks kindly.